With families flocking to SUVs and crossovers, estate versions of regular hatchbacks like the Golf are becoming something of a niche product. Regardless, the Volkswagen Golf Estate is still a class act, thanks to its beautifully built interior, superb powertrains, sweet driving characteristics and excellent versatility. Just don’t expect it to be as desirable with used buyers, or retain its value as well as its hatchback brethren when you come to sell it.
The Golf Estate sits at the pricier end of the spectrum compared with most rivals, but thanks to its classy cabin and great driving characteristics, it feels like it’s worth every penny. All the engines are competitive when it comes to fuel economy and CO2 emissions. For example, the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine delivers great refinement with respectable numbers while the 1.6-litre diesel is the best for both CO2 and mpg, though not by much. A flavour of SUV all-weather ability is available with the all-wheel drive Alltrack version but it’s more expensive to buy and incurs something of a penalty in running costs too.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen has managed to carve itself a strong reputation for reliability, but this isn’t necessarily reflected in the various surveys we’ve seen. Indeed, the brand is fairly entrenched in the bottom half of the manufacturer standings on Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, while as an individual model, the Golf’s score is – historically at least – pretty disappointing. The three-year/60,000-mile warranty is about par for the course, but not especially generous.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Volkswagen Golf
The Golf scored a full five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP. All versions get front, side, curtain and knee airbags, plus Isofix points for two child car seats in the back. A pre-crash system – which in the event of an imminent collision, will close windows and the sunroof to ensure the airbags can work most effectively – is also included, as is pedestrian monitoring, complete with low-speed autonomous emergency braking. There’s also traffic jam assist as an option. Although the driver must still keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times, the system enables the car to steer around obstacles, accelerate, and brake automatically. Inevitably if you want all the driver assistance gizmos you need to pay extra for the privilege.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Volkswagen Golf
Depending on which version of the Golf Estate you choose, you get different suspension setups. Less powerful versions have a fairly basic rear suspension, slightly more powerful versions have a more sophisticated setup at the rear, while the sporty versions get various arrangements that are lowered and stiffened to varying degrees. The interesting thing is, you can’t really go wrong with any of them, as even the most basic gives you a superbly comfortable and quiet ride. The sportiest versions are very comfortable when compared with their hot hatch rivals, but they also deliver bigtime on the thrills. Throw in steering that’s responsive, consistent and accurate, plus control weights that are perfectly finessed, and you’ll find that driving your Golf, whatever flavour it is, is an absolute dream.
The Golf Estate is also brilliant at the basics, with loads of seat and steering wheel adjustment, along with comfortable, supportive seats. The luggage space behind the Golf Estate’s rear seats measures 605 litres, comprehensively beating a Ford Focus Estate. Fold the Golf’s rear seats down using the boot mounted levers and space increases to 1,620 litres, which is huge. That said, if you want the ultimate in space for even less money, the Skoda Octavia estate is bigger again, with a 1,740-litre boot..
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Volkswagen Golf
The Golf Estate is available in a wide range of trims, ranging from entry-level S through to hot-hatch chasing R, all-wheel drive Alltrack versions offering a more outdoorsy image. Even at S level it comes with a decent amount of kit, including remote locking, air-conditioning, electric front windows, and a touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth, DAB, and eight speakers. Match trim is well worth the upgrade, though, given it includes front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, touchscreen navigation and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. GT is more about a few more luxurious trimmings, Alltrack set apart by its tough-looking body cladding while the R gets all the trimmings you’d expect of a flagship performance variant. One option we particularly like (and is standard on the Alltrack and R) is the Active Info Display, which replaces the conventional dials with a customisable display for cars equipped with navigation.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Volkswagen Golf
There’s plenty of engine choice in the Golf Estate range. The most affordable of these is the diminutive 1.0-litre petrol engine, which isn’t especially quick but delivers impressive economy figures. The 1.5-litre petrol is available in two levels of tune and both feel substantially quicker and wonderfully smooth. Diesel choices start with a 1.6-litre unit, which is very flexible if not all that quick, and it could be quieter and smoother, too. The 2.0-litre diesel addresses these issues, is much more flexible and feels considerably faster. The Alltrack version gets a more powerful version of this engine all to itself. Most Golfs get a slick-shifting manual gearbox as standard, but many are also available with a smooth twin-clutch gearbox as an option.
For families in a hurry the 300 horsepower R version is an amusing way to surprise hot-hatch drivers and is pleasingly undercover compared with its more celebrated hatchback equivalent.